New laws won’t accomplish much if they cannot be enforced and effective enforcement of fisheries laws is a major challenge throughout the world. This is certainly an issue in countries such as Belize, where resources are limited.
Gillnet enforcement is more difficult than most fisheries enforcement as gillnets are usually set at night when patrols are limited or non-existent. Additionally, gillnets are difficult to inspect when they are located by officers because they must pull cumbersome nets from the water to evaluate length, mesh size, etc.
Gillnets are widely known to be the gear of choice for illegal fishermen and this is pertinent to the present situation in Belize. Guatemalan fishermen, using gillnets as long as one mile long, are now regularly fishing in Belize’s waters including its marine reserves. This illegal fishing is extremely destructive and difficult to stop. Without a gillnet ban it may, in fact, be impossible.
Banning gillnets will not resolve all illegal fishing but it will make good enforcement significantly easier. A gillnet ban is, in fact, a necessary first step toward effective enforcement in Belize. Largely for this reason, the Belize Coast Guard has endorsed a Belizean gillnet ban. With limited enforcement resources, Belize needs a gillnet ban to have a fighting chance at providing effective enforcement of its fisheries regulations.